WASHINGTON, D.C.- Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee of Agriculture, today praised the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) newly-announced pork and poultry trade agreement with the Philippines, just months after the Chairman led an Agriculture Committee delegation to the East Asian nation to protest the Philippine government's failure to implement the Uruguay Round's pork and poultry provisions and to promote agricultural trade.
In late May of 1997, Smith and other Agriculture Committee Members traveled to East Asia to promote agricultural trade and protest the Philippine government's failure to implement the Uruguay Round's pork and poultry provisions - at a loss of between $40-$80 million in annual U.S. exports. The Committee's trade mission coincided with USTR efforts to address the Philippine government's noncompliance with GATT, highlighted by formal U.S. consultations with the World Trade Organization in April of last year. Last week, the USTR announced a bilateral U.S.-Philippine Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to change restrictive Philippine import licensing practices that had effectively excluded U.S. pork and poultry imports. The MOU will take effect on March 5, 1998 and will apply to all imports since January 1998.
"This is a great victory for U.S. agriculture. After all, the United States is the Philippines' second largest trading partner. As I told President Ramos last year, the Philippines must honor its commitments to America's farmers and ranchers. Now they have chosen to do so, and we can look forward to a healthy and fair trading relationship," Smith said.
"The 1999 World Trade Organization talks on agriculture are the next great opportunity to secure real, lasting reductions in barriers to agricultural trade. As we prepare for those negotiations, it's critical that all countries adopt policies that respect not just the benefits of trade, but the responsibilities, as well. Now, as a result of our efforts, the Philippines has shown a willingness to practice what they preach," Smith said.
During the Uruguay Round, the Philippines agreed to establish tariff rate quotas for pork and poultry meat which were scheduled to be implemented by July 1995. Legislative delays resulted in the Philippines' failure to implement these commitments until July 1996. Thereafter, Manila delayed promulgation of necessary regulations until late 1996. When import licenses were finally issued, 82 percent of import licenses for pork and 94 percent of import licenses for poultry were allocated to domestic producers.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District-which includes most of eastern, southern, and central Oregon-in the U.S. House of Representatives.